Palestinians gather at new West Bank protest camp

Updated 20 January 2013
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Palestinians gather at new West Bank protest camp

BEIT IKSA: Some 200 Palestinians gathered yesterday at a new encampment in a West Bank village, protesting for the second consecutive day Israel’s intention to confiscate land.
“We have settled on the lands of the Beit Iksa village to prevent its confiscation by the Israeli army,” Osama Zayed, village resident and one of the organizers of the initiative, told AFP.
The activists erected four tents since Friday and were building a structure to serve as a mosque.
Ziad Abu Ein, an official from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’ Fatah movement, told AFP that “many such villages should be created, to remove the occupation and the settlements.”
Activists say the Israeli army recently announced it would confiscate over 500 dunams (124 acres, 50 hectares) of land by the village, located on the northwestern outskirts of Jerusalem.
The village extension was named Bab Al-Karama, Arabic for Gate of Dignity.
The Israeli Army was monitoring the developments, but yesterday had no comment on the activities.
Two military jeeps had arrived at the site, but were blocked by the activists, who stood in the way to the tents singing songs. The vehicles turned around and left.
During the night between Wednesday and Thursday, Israeli police dismantled a different Palestinian protest camp of 24 tents set up on a controversial piece of land on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Activists established the camp, which they dubbed Bab Al-Shams, or Gate of the Sun in Arabic, in a bid to draw attention to Israeli plans to build in the area, known as E1.


Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

  • US Secretary of State laid out Trump administration’s strategy for constraining Iran’s nuclear program
  • US threatens "strongest sanctions in history" if Iranian government does not change course

WASHINGTON: The US told Iran on Monday to drop its nuclear ambitions and pull out of the Syrian civil war in a list of demands that marked a new hard-line against Tehran and prompted an Iranian official to warn that Washington seeks regime change.

Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse years of its foreign policies.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for proxy armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the US would “crush” Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the US demands. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the US was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

The speech did not explicitly call for regime change but Pompeo repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes I set forward,” said Pompeo.